How Do You Fix a Slipped Disc?
If you’ve got a slipped disc, or think that your lower back pain might be caused by a herniated disc, it can often feel like you’ll be living with that pain forever. Thankfully, there have never been more options available to relieve pressure on the spinal column caused by a slipped disc.
What is a Slipped Disc?
A slipped disc, also known as a herniated disc or a prolapsed disk, is where the tissue between bones, called vertebrae, are pushed out of alignment.
These disc’s are made up of the jelly-like nucleus pulposus, which is encased by an outer ring of strong, rubber-like tissue. When someone is suffering from a slipped disc, that means the nucleus pulposus is pushing against this outer ring, either rupturing through it or causing the outer ring to bulge.
Common symptoms of a herniated disc include:
- Lower back pain
- Numbness or tingling
- Neck pain
- Leg pain
- Numbness or weakness in the buttocks, hips, or legs (in the case of a lumbar disc herniation pressing on the sciatic nerve)
Slipped Disc Causes
Unfortunately, it’s not always clear what causes a slipped disc, it can be a cyclical or reoccurring problem. However, we do know that there are factors that increase the risk of developing a herniated disc, such as:
- Weight-bearing sports
- Jobs involving heavy lifting
- Jobs where you’re sat down for long periods
It’s understood that all of these things can cause additional wear and tear on the discs between the vertebrae.
Why a Herniated Disc Causes Back Pain
The spinal column is made up of vertebrae, discs of tissue, and ligaments, all of which protect the spinal cord. Discs act as shock absorbers for the vertebrae, and they’re supported by ligaments that give the spine additional strength, meaning that we can perform physically demanding tasks without risking damaging our nervous system.
However, when a disc herniation happens, the tissue is pushed out and potentially can put pressure on a spinal nerve. This is what leads to feelings of numbness, weakness, or pain in various parts of the body, and makes it difficult to go about our normal activities.
If you have a herniated disc causing low back pain, then it’s possible that the disc herniation is pressing on the sciatic nerve. This nerve root pain, also known as sciatica, often also results in leg pain, or the pain may be felt in the buttocks or hips.
Slipped Disc Complications
If you suspect you have a slipped disc, it’s vital that you see your Chiropractor immediately. While you might think that because a slipped disc may heal itself, it’s not necessary to seek a diagnosis, a herniated disc can cause long-term complications if you don’t seek professional advice.
It’s true that lower back pain is only caused by a herniated lumbar disc in fewer than 1 in 20 cases, but that’s not to say that you can take any chances. In some cases, your lower back pain can be caused by a serious condition known as Cauda Equina Syndrome or CES.
Cauda Equina Syndrome, so named for the bundle of nerves at the end of the spinal cord that resembles a horses’ tail, is where a herniated lumbar disk presses on those nerve roots.
As a result, you’ll likely feel pain in your lower back, as well as experience pain, numbness, or tingling in your lower limbs and pelvic organs. In some cases, CES can interrupt nerve signals to your bladder or bowel, leading to incontinence. In extreme cases, CES can lead to permanent paralysis, which is why it’s vital to seek professional advice for a suspected slipped disk in the lower back.
Treatment Options for a Herniated Disk
When you’re diagnosed with a slipped disc, your treatment options may vary depending on the location of the slipped disc in the spinal canal and what pain you have. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan is often the best way of finding out if a slipped disc is the cause of your back pain.
A slipped disc needs to be treated with a holistic treatment plan that addresses both the symptoms and the cause of the herniated disc.
The best treatment plan for a slipped disc, particularly if it’s in the lumbar spine, is to keep as active as you can with gentle exercises that don’t put pressure on the spine or cause pain. Anti-inflammatory drugs can also help with the pain, particularly if the spinal nerves are compressed by the slipped disc. In minor cases of a herniated disc, your symptoms may improve in as little as six weeks. However, if your slipped disc is pressing on a nerve or is causing significant pain, weakness, or numbness, you may have to consider surgery to correct it.
Treatment at Elite Spine Centres
At Elite Spine Centres, our expert chiropractors developed our signature Functional Correction Method, or FCM, to treat both the cause and the symptoms of your slipped disc. Because we know that a slipped disc may be a reoccurring issue, we work with every patient in our care to both relieve their pain in the short term and help them manage their symptoms, and prevent a herniated disc from occurring again.
Our FCM program combines traditional chiropractic practices to adjust the spine, soft tissue therapies like non-surgical spinal decompression also radial shockwave therapy and low level laser therapy to support the fascia around the slipped disc, and physiotherapy rehabilitative exercises to help people to strengthen their spinal column, muscles, and joints.
We know that surgery for a slipped disc can be intense and can leave people feeling frustrated as they have to travel to different medical facilities for their treatment. That’s why we’ve developed this holistic program to help people to manage slipped disc pain, relieve any other symptoms, and provide them with all the health information they need to choose the best treatment.
Dr. Michael Bryant, doctor of chiropractic and member of the Alliance of Chiropractic (AOC) Singapore, graduated summa cum laude from Life University in Atlanta and received several distinctions, as well as completing additional coursework and NBCE certification in physiotherapy. Michael Bryant is the founder of Elite Spine Centers. Read more about Dr. Mike here.